In an age where consumer expectations are being raised by higher and higher resolution plasma and LCD viewing experiences, how can anybody take a small screen (anything less than 20 inches) seriously? I have never been one to make predictions, but here's one: The video iPod will be relegated to niche, specialty content, and the intense shift seen in music will never occur.
Never. That's what I said.
Give me two years please before passing judgement. There is always the novelty, the effect of good marketing, the Apple stigma and style-driven consumer purchasing. But to really revolutionize portable video, we need technologies more akin to miniature projection systems or even direct optic nerve interfaces which approach the kind of viewing experiences people increasingly will demand.
As if pure resolution weren't enough, add to that the content problem. The news.com article Now Playing on a Tiny Screen highlights the kinds of production issues involved in addressing display size. And, don't think these are esoteric! Give consumers more credit. People have an extremely sensitive visual sense and though the average person may not be able to articulate it, they will reject anything which lacks that "certain something" that are the result of well-considered production values.
Directors have long had an intense awareness of the size of the screen. In 1973, Ingmar Bergman broke new ground creating Scenes from a Marriage for the television screen. There were tight shots, intimate framing. So different from the expansive use of space that directors who dare exploit on the big screen. If you are ever in a movie theatre and they play television content (advertising, for example), you'll see the problem. TV ads on the big screen are arresting, difficult to watch.
You can't simply take a big screen epic, or even a television program in 16:9 and simply watch it on something so tiny. The novelty will wear off. The couch cushions will be calling, I promise, and home entertainment need not worry.
There are niche areas. Somebody needs to try "Make a date with me" video podcasts. In areas like dating, tiny screens work. Our brains are tuned to recognize physical features even when there is a great amount of missing detail. Anyone who has a niche video product, something informative, something "low value", there is definitely a market.
So much for my first, and probably only, prediction.
Enjoy those tiny pixels!